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Ezra Winston - Ancient Afternoons CD (album) cover


Ezra Winston

Symphonic Prog

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3 stars Excellent production from Italy, even though it's a bit overrated in comparison to their previous masterwork "The Myth Of The Chrysavides". Recently they have supported Le ORME and BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO in several important occasions. Besides in the last years, they have been carrying on their activity far from the stage for some months, except on their participation on a couple of Progressive Festivals in Italy. During these events their execution of "Ancient Afternoons" has been very successful, regarding the Italian progressive fans.
Report this review (#1936)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hey, my first review! Have it in my car and let me tell you, it has the Genesis "Trespass" sound down pat. If Hackett played on the "Trespass" album with an Italian singing Peter Gabrielish and you added some low-key and beautiful horns and a load of flute, you have this album in a nutshell. It's autumnal, intricate and has that 70's style recording. Most songs are lengthy and just plain beautiful. So, if your cup of tea is 'Trespass' era Genesis with a smattering of horns to fill in the grey areas, go out and buy this album. You will not be disappointed! A solid four stars.
Report this review (#1938)
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This open-minded reviewer keeps on informing the visitors from this wonderful site about 40 years of exciting progrock (1966-2006), here is a beauty from the Nineties. The first track "The painter and the king" (5 parts) has a delicate classical inspired symphonic sound (flute, acoustic guitar) with strong hints from early Genesis (twanging guitars), the electric guitarwork is very flowing and sensitive. The next song "Verge of suicide" (4 parts) has echoes from PFM, due to the sparkling flute, acoustic guitar and warm vocals. The final part includes fanfare-like bombastic keyboards and drums. Then a shorter song entitled "Night storm", it has a compelling symphonic climate featuring howling electric guitar, accompanied by saxophone and flute. The fourth composition "Ancient afternoon of a unknown town" is the 'magnum opus' (9 parts, 26 minutes) and sounds very alternating, ranging from mellow with acoustic guitars, flute and soaring keyboards to bombastic with swirling flute and up-tempo with sumptuous synthesizers in the vein of the Japanese prog (Gerard, Deja Vu, Ars Nova). Surprising elements are the use of xylophone, brass and classical guitar. The final song "Shades of grey" is a short bonustrack that delivers twanging acoustic guitar, flute and Hackett-like guitar, strongly evoking early Genesis. IF YOU LIKE EARLY GENESIS AND CLASSICAL MUSIC, THIS CD IS WORTH A TRY!
Report this review (#38567)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ancient Afternoons may have a place in my "top ten desert island..." in prog, and within the nineties, no doubt it figures very high. Yes, the pastoral side of early Genesis is preeminent, as the romanticism and folk influence of the 70's italian school. But all is so well integrated, the construction surprisingly reminds me of another great band of that period, Anglagard,even if the sound greatly differs as each one reveals his national origin. Vocals are not great but still unintrusive. Others have mentioned the appreciated inclusion of flutes and horns to vary the sound, and i do agree much to this point. At the end the gratest quality of the music is that all the musicians are suborned to the music, no long solos or free virtuosity even if all are top notch ā la Anglagard (still), even if keybords really shine.

I remember the first time i put Ancient Afternoons in the CD player, in those times i turned to other genres than prog music; it truly caught me back with expectations that there could still be something good in prog for the coming new century. And there is!

Report this review (#115057)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Dateline 1990: the Dictatorial Rule of the Corporate Music Industry has crushed the remaining stubborn prog dinosaurs into oblivion. Yet little did the corporate bigwigs know that within a year Metallica and Nirvana would conspire to "tear the playhouse down" again and bring in the grunge/alternative era of noisy guitar crap and wounded (or MIA) melodies (sorry Kurt). Prog was forced into the "maquis", becoming jungle guerillas, a few trembling survivors fighting on bravely and in silent lucidity(Queensryche-Empire, Ant Phillips-Slow Dance, Ozric Tentacles-Erpland, Oldfield's Amarok, After Crying-Overground Music and Fish-The Vigil ). Needless to say, times were tough in Progland during the blitz. Yet among the smoking ruins and strewn corpses of the once all mighty (Yes, Tull, Floyd, KC and the traitor Genesis), there was a fabulous little treasure that few knew about, away from the usual Brit-Yank commercial infested stage , in a country known more for food, drink, fashion and history but also once a pivotal school of prog-rock : Italy. Far removed from the maddening hypocrisy of the flavor of the month rock band philosophy was Ezra Winston and its mythical "Ancient Afternoons", a heady follow up to their equally resplendent 1988 debut" Myth of the Chrysalides". Composer and multi-instrumentalist Mauro di Donato put together another symphonic masterpiece with heavy Medieval/Renaissance influences (identified by some reviewers as Trespass-era Genesis) meshed with outright classical orchestrations leaning heavily on assorted wind and brass instruments. There are some strong similarities with Hackett's debut "Voyage of the Acolyte", with some typical PFM/LeOrme arrangements (the latter's Aldo Tagliapietra is a guest on bass and vocals) and plenty lush symphonics that will leave you speechless. There are no outright flashy solos but rather a team concept all focusing on the sum of the parts that make this slant towards a classical prog monument. The nearly hour long recording is an utter stroke of genius, a masterpiece of Italian symphonic prog that has few peers and deserves to be in any prog collection. Amazing for 1990, still stunning today. That means 5 pounds of marlboros.
Report this review (#158617)
Posted Monday, January 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a strange album. Got it on LP and today I was thought I was going to listen to it carefully and write a short review. The first song is like someone taped the band at 3 o clock in the middle of night and the band wasn't aware of it. Did they even try to write a song? Boring keyboards for the last five minutes makes this a pain. Second song is a lot slower and almost puts me to sleep, I have a hard time to stay awake here. Too little is happening and the song is too long. Dreamy acoustic guitar with flute...zzzzzz. At the time of the third song the band starts to wake up but unfortionately this is not good enough, the song goes of too long and doesn't contain anything really good.

And here comes the strange part of the LP, the fourth and last song (the LP doesn't have the CD bonus track) the band starts to play really decent Genesis/Camel inspired progressive rock. Well it's not really in that class but still really worthwile good progrock. There are som interesting moments of stops and turns and some really intelligent songwriting. Unfortionately there are som boring dreamy vocals at som times but here the band starts to shine. They keep me awake for all the 25 minutes witch is a good grade for a song that long.

Conclusion: there are 25 minutes of good quality progressive rock here. The rest is rather boring. My rating would be 2.5 and I'll be nice and give it three stars only for the last 25 minutes.

Report this review (#180640)
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars EZRA WINSTON is a highly thought of modern RPI band who released their first album in the late eighties.This is the followup called "Ancient Afternoons". There's no questioning the talent of this band but for my taste this was a long listen. Not a fan of the vocals although they certainly don't ruin it by any means. It's that Classical flavour that bothers me the most I suppose, although it's more than that.

"The Painter And The King" opens with the birds singing before flute and orchestral sounds take over. Man I don't like this at all. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. Thankfully it gets better when the guitar comes in around 1 1/2 minutes. Vocals before 2 1//2 minutes and it's very pastoral. I like the atmosphere after 3 1/2 minutes then the drums start to build as the guitar then sax comes in. Not a bad track overall.

"Verge Of Suicide" is mellow to start with vocals and flute. There has to be fairies prancing around too. Marching style drums arrive before 7 minutes then it's pastoral again. "Night-Storm" has this tasteful guitar with a beat and vocals. I like the guitar late. "Ancient Afternoon Of An Unknown Town" is the 26 minute epic. For me this feels like it's patched together too much, although there is one section that I like from before 19 minutes to the 24 minute mark. It's led by drums and horns. "Shades Of Grey" is laid back with vocals. Flute after 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks in somewhat with drums and guitar.

I must admit it's hard to even offer up 3 stars for this one, but out of respect for the fans of this album especially tszirmay that is my rating.

Report this review (#277574)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Named for a Latin American comic-book character whose sidekick had a fancy for travelling back in time, Ezra Winston (the band) seems to share that penchant for looking to the past. They are one of only a small handful of Italian bands classified as Symphonic Prog in the PA database and as other reviewers have already noted there is something of an inclination to 'Trespass' on this album. While it's not a mere doppelganger, it's not difficult to imagine Ezra Winston centring their attention on the talismanic Genesis album and they even included some 'White Mountain' fragments in the flute melody of 'Glares'.

For sure, this is an epic work and involves what seems like a retinue of thousands of musicians. The album is meticulously presented with a lavish booklet that includes all English language lyrics and explanations of the songs. The opening track 'The Painter And The King' is a fine example of telling a story through music, with brass fanfares for the painter's arrival at court and the death rattle of percussion during his execution. 'Verge Of Suicide' also manages to convey its different moods effectively although the singer's Gabriel imitation isn't, for me, a patch on the broad-chested vocals of so many of his countrymen.

'Ancient Afternoon Of An Unknown Town' is the album's magnum opus, the big cheese, the full bhuna, the big kahuna. It's an enormous, sprawling piece that concerns the further sombre myths of the Chrysavides. It begins with the lovely Baroque-inspired 'Prelude' and this clearly transmits a feeling of grandeur, but the shiny stuff quickly wears off and I'm less convinced by what's left. It's all too fragmented and it fails to really take shape. Rather than having the impression of reading an epic story, the feeling of going on a long and fitful journey spreads through me and I'm glad when I reach the end.

'Ancient Afternoons' is good without being particularly exciting; I don't condemn it to the stake but I can't exactly sing its praises either.

Report this review (#551072)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Well, I understand all this praising for this album. After all, it is a journey back to the time of the great prog bands (and their love for Genesis Trespass and PFMīs Per Un Amico is more than evident). Usually I donīt mind derivative music, as long as it is well done. And this the biggest problem here: the songwriting department and the vocals. While it is clear that all band members are skilled musicians, the vocals are awful, which is really strange since they are from a land of great singers like Italy. Most of the time itīs like whispering voices, recorded too low in the mix (maybe intentionally, I donīt know, and I donīt care, since the results are the same). The songs tried to emulate a lot of those aforementioned bands and are well executed, but no melodies stuck even after repeated listenings. Itīs that typical case of terrific players in dire need of an equally great composer to match.

So itīs easy to understand why those guys never made it. And most of the praising comes from the fact that this band came in a time not too many progressive combos were not coming from Italy (a country that gave us so many outstanding and unique works they became a league of their own). Donīt get me wrong, there are indeed some nice passages here and there, but thatīs all. No real "songs" or epics as such, everything seems to have a lack of structure, like a good beginning or a climax to end. A real pity, for the inspiration is right, the intentions are good and the overall technique (minus the vocals) is flawless. But with no good tunes to go along with them, the results are at best interesting.

Definitly for collectors and fans only. Two stars.

Report this review (#796161)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2012 | Review Permalink

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